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“England Caused the War"
By T. von Bethmann Hollweg
German Imperial Chancellor
[Full text of the speech delivered by the German Chancellor at the session of the Reichstag in Berlin on Dec. 2, 1914.]
HE Emperor, who is absent with the army, has charged me to transmit his best wishes and cordial greetings to the German Reichstag, with whom he is known to be united till death in the stress of danger and in the common concern for the weal of the Fatherland.
Our first thought goes out to the Kaiser and the army and navy-our soldiers who are fighting for the honor and greatness of the empire. Full of pride and unshakable confidence, we look to them and to our Austro-Hungarian comrades in arms, who are firmly united to us, to fight great battles with brilliant bravery.
Our most recent ally in battle who has been obliged to join us is the Ottoman Empire, which knows well that with the destruction of the German Empire it, too, would lose its national right to control its own destiny. As our enemies have formed a powerful coalition against us, they will, I hope, find that the arm of our brave allies reaches the weak spots in their world position.
On Aug. 4 the Reichstag expressed the firm resolution of the whole people to undertake the war which had been forced upon them and to defend their independence to the utmost.
Since then great deeds have been accomplished. The incomparable gallantry of our troops has carried the war into the enemy's country. There we still stand firm, and can regard the future with every confidence, but the enemy's resistance is not broken.
We are not yet at the end of our sacrifices. The nation will continue to
support those sacrifices with the same heroism as hitherto, for we must and will fight to a successful end our defensive war for right and freedom. We will then remember how our defenseless compatriots in hostile countries were maltreated in a manner which is a disgrace to all civilization. The world must learn that no one can hurt a hair on the head of a German subject with impunity.
It is evident to us who is responsible for this-the greatest of all wars. The apparent responsibility falls on those in Russia who ordered and carried out the mobilization of the Russian Army; the real responsibility, however, falls on the British Government. The Cabinet in London could have made the war impossible if it had without ambiguity declared at Petrograd that Great Britain would not allow a Continental war to develop from the Austro-Servian conflict.
Such a declaration would also have obliged France to take energetic measures to restrain Russia from undertaking warlike operations. Then our action as mediators between Petrograd and Vienna would have been successful, and there would have been no war.
But Great Britain did not act thus. Great Britain was aware of the bellicose machinations of the partly irresponsible but powerful group around the Czar. She saw how the ball was rolling, but placed no obstacle in its path. In spite of all its assurances of peace London informed Petrograd that Great Britain was on the side of France, and, consequently, on the side of Russia.
The Cabinet of London allowed this monstrous worldwide war to come about, hoping, with the help of the Entente, to destroy the vitality of England's greatest European competitor in the
THE NEW YORK TIMES CURRENT HISTORY
markets of the world. Therefore, England and Russia have before God and men the responsibility for the catastrophe which has fallen upon Europe. Belgian neutrality, which England pretended to defend, was nothing but a disguise.
On the evening of Aug. 2 we informed Brussels that we were obliged, in the interest of self-defense and in consequence of the war plans of France, which were known to us, to march through Belgium, but already, on the afternoon of the same day, Aug. 2, before anything of our action in Brussels could have been known in London, the British Government promised France unconditional assistance in case the German fleet should attack the French coast. Nothing was said about Belgian neutrality.
How can England maintain that she drew the sword because we violated Belgian neutrality? How could the British statesmen, whose past is well known, speak at all of Belgian neutrality? When, on Aug. 4, I spoke of the wrong which we were committing with our march into Belgium it was not yet established whether the Belgian Government at the last moment would not desire to spare the country and retire under protest to Antwerp. For military reasons I cannot go into whether there was the possibility of such a development on Aug. 4.
As to the guilt of the Belgian Government, many indications were already known at that time, but there were no positive and written proofs. Now, however, that it is demonstrated by documents found in Brussels how the Belgians surrendered their neutrality to England the entire world knows two facts.
One is that when our troops on the night of Aug. 3-Aug. 4 entered Belgian territory they were on the ground of a State which had given up its neutrality long ago. The other is that, not for the sake of the neutrality of Belgium, which she had herself undermined, did England declare war on us, but because she believed that she would be able to master us with the help of two great Continental powers.
Since Aug. 2, since her promise to assist France, England was no longer neutral, and was actually at war with us, and the argument that the declaration of war was a sequel to the violation of Belgian neutrality is nothing but a piece of play-acting performed to mystify the English people and neutral States.
Now that the Anglo-Belgian war plans are unveiled in their smallest details, the policy of British statesmen is branded before the tribunal of history for all time.
But British diplomacy went further. At England's request Japan snatches away heroic Kiao-Chau and violates the neutrality of China. Has England interfered in this violation of neutrality? Has England shown a care for neutral States in this case?
When, five years ago, I was called to office, the Triple Alliance was opposed by a firmly united Entente. England's work was designed to serve the known principle of the balance of power, which means in plain German that the principle, followed for centuries by British policy and directed against the strongest Continental power, should find its strongest tool in the Triple Entente. This proves from the beginning the aggressive character of the Entente toward the plainly defensive tendencies of the Triple Alli
This was the germ of the forcible explosion. German policy was obliged to try to avert the danger of war by an understanding with the individual powers of the Entente. At the same time she was obliged to strengthen her defensive forces so that she should be prepared if war should come all the same. We did both. In France we always encountered ideas of revanche felt by ambitious politicians. With Russia some agreements were concluded, but Russia's firm alliance with France, her antagonism to us and our ally, Austria-Hungary, her PanSlavistic desire for power, her artificial hatred for Germany, made it impossible to conclude an agreement which in the case of a political crisis would exclude the danger of war.
England was comparatively free. Here
the best attempt at an understanding could be made which would have effectively guaranteed the peace of the world. I acted accordingly. The way was narrow, which I knew well. For decades the British insular intellect has been evolving the political principle, the dogma that the arbitrament of the world is due to England, which she can only maintain by undisputed supremacy on the sea and the much-quoted balance of power on the Continent.
I never hoped to break the old principle by persuasion. What I believed possible was that the growing power of Germany and the growing danger of war could be made to compel England to perceive that this old principle was untenable and unpractical, and that a peaceable arrangement with Germany was preferable, but that dogma always paralyzed the possibility of an understanding. After the crisis of 1911 public opinion forced British rulers to a rapprochement toward Germany. By wearisome work an understanding was finally reached in different disputed questions of economic interest which related to Africa and Asia Minor. This understanding should have diminished possible political friction if the free development of our strength were not impeded. Both peoples had sufficient space to measure their strength in peaceful competition.
This was the principle always upheld by German policy. But while we were negotiating England was always thinking of strengthening her relations with Russia and France. The decisive factor was that more binding military agreements for the case eventually of a Continental war were concluded outside the political sphere. England negotiated, if possible, secretly. If anything leaked out of importance it was minimized in press and Parliament. It could not be concealed from us. The whole situation was as follows:
England was willing to come to an understanding with us in individual questions, but the first principle always was that Germany's free development of strength must be checked by the balance of power.
We did not fail to warn the British Government. As recently as the beginning of July I notified the British Government that we knew of the secret naval negotiations with Russia concerning the Naval Convention. I pointed out the serious danger which British policy meant for the peace of the world. A fortnight later what I predicted occurred. When war had broken out England dropped her disguise. She loudly announced that she would fight till Germany was conquered in an economical and military sense. We have only one answer. Germany cannot be destroyed. As her military strength has stood the test, so has her financial strength.
Look at the diminution in the number of unemployed. The unemployed of yesterday are the army of today-their spirit is that of the soldier of yesterday and of today-the one spirit that animates us all.
When this spirit, this moral greatness of the people, when the proved heroism of our troops is called by our enemies militarism, if they call us Huns and barbarians, we can be proud enough and need not worry. This wonderful spirit in the hearts of the German people, this unprecedented unity, must and will be victorious. When a glorious and happy peace is concluded we will maintain this spirit as the holiest legacy of this terrible and serious and great time. I repeat the words of the Emperor:
"I know no parties. I know only GerWhen the war is ended parties will return without parties, without a political fight. There is no political life, not even for the freest and most united people."
Many seats are vacant here. Where are their holders? You know. There is the vacant seat of Herr Frank, (Socialist member;) but he will return no more. The spirit of cheerful self-sacrifice which animates us here as the guardians of the people's weal inspires the entire people.
Japan joined our enemies from a desire to seize as booty the monument of
Why England Fights Germany
By Hilaire Belloc
Hilaire Belloc has for years been among the most prominent of English writers, his political and economic opinions being widely quoted. As a historian he has given special attention to the French Revolution, being the author of "Danton," "Marie Antoinette," "The Girondins," and other studies which are regarded by scholars as standard works. Mr. Belloc's military knowledge and experience (he served in the Eighth Regiment of French Artillery) and his understanding of history have made him an acute and interesting chronicler of the present war. The following article appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES of Jan. 17, 1915.
SHALL attempt in what follows to answer the question "Why is England at war with Germany? " It is perhaps the most important question upon which neutral countries, and especially neutral English-speaking countries, should have a true answer. Upon their just appreciation of England's position in this war a great deal of the immediate future of the world will depend.
But before proceeding to answer the question directly, we must get rid of certain misconceptions.
The question must be, as the French say, not only "put," but " put in its due proportion." It is not enough to answer the question "Why is England at war with Germany?" unless we know, to begin with, what that event means to this gigantic war as a whole.
Let us begin, then, by saying that this great war is not primarily a war between England and Germany at all. England and Germany are not the two chief combatants. The issue is not a victory to be achieved by Germany on the one side, or England upon the other. The victory of one of the parties in the great struggle would not produce a much stronger England, though it certainly would produce a much stronger Ger
The struggle is primarily and essentially a struggle between two conflicting theories of life and government, which
have the Continent of Europe for their theatre, and of which the Prussians upon the one hand, the French upon the other, are the protagonists and have been the protagonists for now more than three generations.
All human conflicts have spiritual roots, and the underlying spiritual forces which by their contrast have led to this war are the forces of the old Latin and Christian civilization, with its doctrines of human equality and the rest, and the North German reaction against that tradition. Of the first the French are the guardians and have always been. Of the second the North Germans of the Baltic plain, and particularly the Prussians, have been the exponents; and one may survey Europe as a whole and say that the conflict spreads through the minds of all Europeans, dividing them between those who would prefer their posterity to live, consciously or unconsciously, under the ancient and continuous tradition of the civilization inherited from Rome or under some re rsal of that tradtion.
That conflict is apparent in every department of life; in the arts, in the customs of society, and, most important of all, in philosophy.
The direct, immediate, and perceptible issue of the struggle is again something different. It is an issue between the German-speaking peoples and the Slav. If you were to ask an acute, well-traveled observer, say a European